What is Lost Valley Educational Center? We’ll talk to Collin at his Oregon Country Fair booth and find out the many definitions of permaculture and how it relates to the land, people, and activities at this educational center in Dexter, Oregon.


Lost Valley Educational Center

Transcription by Jade Rainsong

(Karen:) Few more booths here at energy park today. It’s Saturday afternoon at the country fair. And this is about Lost Valley Educational Center. Hi, I’m Karen.

(Colin:) Hi, I’m Colin.

(Karen:) Nice to meet you, and I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about Lost Valley. What does that mean?

(Colin:) Sure, so it’s a few things rolled together. So we’re a 501 c 3 non-profit Education Center. Focused on sustainability, in the full sense, not just the ecological side, but also the social component. Like how we communicate, how we make decisions, how to resolve conflicts, personal sustainability, being healthy and balanced in oneself.

Also the world view component in the economic side of it and that’s all part of our primary program. We have a permaculture courses as well and we can do outdoor school. We have a solar trailer that’s powering one of the other stages right now here at the fair, that’s kind of the education center side and there’s an intentional community of residents: 30, 40, 50 people living in our aspiring eco-village.

(Karen:) Can you tell me where this is located?

(Colin:) Yeah. It’s in Dexter on the other side of Eugene. So half-hour outside Eugene and we’ve been there since 1989.

(Karen:) Wow, long time- a lot of history there. It sounds like it’s growing and expanding all the time too.

(Colin:) It’s pretty consistent. But things are things evolve and change over time. For example, now that outdoor school has been funded statewide, we want to get more into that direction both as the site -because we’ve the 87 Acres of mixed habitat -and curriculum providers.

(Karen:) And so can you define what permaculture means?

(Colin:) I guess it depends how long a definition you want. The shortest one I know is three words. Applied common sense, but the next notch bigger is what I would say is working “with” not “against” the forces of the natural world to provide for our own needs without degrading everything else.

(Karen:) That sounds like perfect sense to me.

(Colin:) Yeah, me too. So a classic example of permaculture in what’s now conventional in our society and is a more viable permaculture style is chickens. So mostly in our society, we have these chicken farms that have hundreds of thousands of birds. The food has to be brought in constantly and the waste has to be exported somewhere. Whereas if you have let’s say a smaller scale, 40 chickens or something like that and you can have them on the land, they do their own work, mostly; they scratch and peck, they find insects, they find seeds, they find pests that you don’t want around like slugs. They weed the area for you, they will actually till your garden if there’s no plants around, they will fertilize it because they leave their poop behind. So it’s using a lot of permaculture, one saying is that the problem is the solution.

So like what do you do with these mounds of chicken waste, you know outside of Purdue, you know factory farm. Well that is actually fertility for the land if it’s already spread around with the chickens are spread around is fertility being brought into the system. So the problem is the solution in that case. So permaculture is a set of principles and ethics that can be applied to any situation. But it’s most commonly applied to organic gardening.

It is pretty similar to home steading in a lot of ways, and it’s a traditional thing in the sense of people have been doing this for thousands of years. I was just talking with somebody about a permaculture course she leads in Belize and there’s so much traditional knowledge still intact there that they’re doing permaculture without the word that was invented 30 years ago.

(Karen:) So they’re just living is just how they live. Yeah. Can you tell me kind of is there a most popular program or something really special or something really new you guys are doing?

(Colin:) So I think one thing that gets people at Lost Valley is that it’s not just the project like most of what’s here is the caus,e it’s the project, it’s the organization.

There’s also the place so the land, people fall in love with the property there, and the people -folks who are kind of like down-to-earth and thoughtful and not going in the sort of mainstream default way. And so it’s this combination of factors that end up, you know people a lot of people like.

(Karen:) Thank you so much.


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